Halloween Pumpkins?

I noticed today that my neighbor had put up a couple plastic Halloween pumpkin figures in her yard and was thinking that when I was young it was traditional to get pumpkins from the grocery store and carve them.

Any Dopers still do this? When do you get the pumpkins? How big? Do you light them? Tell us all about it.

Or is this a tradition which has gone out of style?

Sure. My wife and family do several a year and have alot of fun doing it.

I carve pumpkins some years; it depends on how much free time I have for decorating. I’ve tried doing the surface carving thing the last few times, where you shave away the outer rind to make a design, but leave a layer of material to illuminate from inside. I usually use little LED candles for illumination, more because it’s easier to place and keep lit than for safety. If you use a real candle, I’d suggest putting it in a glass jar or or dish to contain and stabilize it.

The size of the pumpkin you need depends on the design you want to do. A traditional grin-and-triangle-eyes can be done on a relatively small pumpkin; more elaborate designs need a bigger canvas. A foot and a half across is usually big enough for anything I care to attempt with my almost nonexistent carving/drawing ability.

Never carve a pumpkin more than a day or two before Halloween. They go bad very quickly, and you don’t want a squishy, rotten pumpkin on your doorstep.

My mom carves a pumpkin each year. Actually she usually does one big one and two or three dinky ones. She does a different design every year and likes to be creative.

I build pumpkins out of legos. I’ve designed a set of sorts that can be rebuilt into pumpkins a bunch of different ways - from a three-dimensional round one about a foot across, to a gigantic one a half-inch thick and three feet across, to a full dozen little tiny flat ones about four inches wide and a little tiny 3-D one two inches wide, along with a few other configurations. I have quite a bit of pride about these pumpkins because when you include the stands designed for them, all of them use ALL the pieces, with none left over, regardless of which configuration I choose.

I don’t have any place to display these guys, so I take them over to my parents’ place and display them there in their front window. I go back and rebuild them into a different configuration each week of the month, for variety and the fun of it. For the last week I have the largest 3-D one up along with his 6-inch 3-D sidekick; on Halloween they’re both lit up with some electric tea lights I found. The big one gets three lights inside it, illuminating the open eyes, nose, and mouth; the top comes off to get them in. The little one has its own tea light carefully built into it, illuminating it similarly. (That one is accessed from the bottom.)

I really like my pumpkins. :smiley:

We haven’t put any outdoors for awhile.

There’s generally an indoor pumpkin display (sometimes with painted “faces”). I have two pumpkins ripening in the vegetable patch for Halloween use.

Sure, people still do this! Make sure you use a jack o’lantern pumpkin; they’re grown for this purpose and have a rind and flesh that is thin relative to the squash’s size, and usually don’t taste good either, so don’t feel bad about throwing them out. Pie pumpkins and the like have very thick flesh and are hard to carve, because they’re grown for eating.

Holy cow, I’m shocked that this question was asked. I currently live near Half Moon Bay California, an agricultural area one of whose main products is pumpkins. There are huge pumpkin farms around here which do a booming business every autumn. “Pumpkin traffic” is an annual annoyance as roads get clogged with people coming here solely to buy pumpkins. The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival is the major event of the year, in which some of the local businesses do a major percentage of their yearly business in one weekend. (Last year’s champion pumpkin weighed 2363 pounds.)

But even before I moved here, everywhere I lived, people carved pumpkins. I usually do 2 or 3 every year. Using a paper pattern and a pumpkin saw of course, not a kitchen knife.

I’ve done them in years when I have time to do one. Depending upon your design & how much your cutting, those little plastic knives suck, so I use an electric carver.

This is my favorite pumpkin that I’ve made. I expect most of you will recognize the source.

My friends and I have gotten together to carve pumpkins together every year since about, hmm, 2000 maybe? Sometimes I’ll do two when we get together, or I’ll do an extra one with some other friends.

We always use patterns. Either the ones that come with the carving tools or something from zombiepumpkins.com. By this point we’ve kind of used all of the patterns out there so we have to dig a little deep to get something new.

We use the drugstore tools. They work the best. We buy the kits after Halloween and I store them at my house. They’re cheap and we don’t feel bad when they break because we have a ton of them.

We try to do it the Sunday before Halloween. The less time these gourds have to spend outside the better. They get moldy fast!

I light mine every night. Oh I also have a great collection of photos of all our pumpkins over the years!

I did it for the kids when they were little. My teens liked doing it themselves. No one ever sees them but us. No neighbors (thank god), No drive bys, we’re so far off a road. I put a display of fall things on my porch. For myself. My Sons little girls will get pumpkins, their Mom wants to paint them thus year, so i will probably be there for that being I have all the supplies. Come to think of it they may come to me to do it, Mom doesn’t like messy projects. I usually get that duty. We’ll see. So yeah, Wal-Mart sells thousands if real pumpkins, that are un-edible.

I have a kid, so pumpkins are definitely still a thing in our home. Last year we got them at a farm that does lots of fall activities for kids and likely will do the same again this time. My husband and I would get some at one of the roadside pumpkin patches in the years before we had the kid, but not as consistently. It just seemed like a lot of time and work for something that was only for ourselves.

We used to do one per kid. Now I just do one for my own enjoyment. Carve it on Halloween day, put it in the window by the front door, put a candle in it.

A surprising number of lil trick-or-treaters are amazed/scared by it.

The next day it goes to the compost pile and gets its picture taken. A grinning pumpkin in a compost pile is a thing of beauty.

When we did it with the kids, their friends would come over and watch or help. They had never done this at home and were in awe.

Halloween is 6 weeks away. It’s a little too early to be decorating for Halloween. As far as I’m concerned Halloween is only one day. Decorations are supposed to go up the day before and come down November 1st.

I usually put things up the weekend before. A week or so before is fine for general decorations, for the benefit of kids in the neighborhood looking forward to the holiday. Pumpkins are definitely a last-minute thing, though.

We always get several pumpkins to set out on the front porch as generic Fall decorations, but we don’t carve them. This is usually about a week before Halloween. We tend to get rid of them right after Thanksgiving, although my SO insists on keeping one or two on the back patio just to see how long they last. It’s usually close to Easter before they collapse unless the squirrels get to them. That might not work in places where they could freeze, and I’m sure carved pumpkins will wither more quickly, so YMMV.

In my experience, carved pumpkins last 3 or 4 days at most. I’ve read that you can prolong their life by rubbing vasoline over the insides, but that sounds so disgusting I’ve never tried it. Uncarved pumpkins last for months. I still see them on people’s porches around here into the next summer.

I do since my kid was born, but we missed last year. Pumpkins all sold out!

I also carve oversized zucchini that I let grow too big. They make great scary companions.

I buy and carve real pumpkins every year, just for the fun of it. Most years I’ve set them on the porch for the trick or treaters to see and then chucked them in the compost after Halloween.
Last year we moved to a farm, so I planted pie pumpkins in the spring. I found the Jack O’Lantern seeds too late to plant. So far I’ve harvested four, and I can see a few more which are ripening on the vine. I may or may not carve them (probably will) but there will be no one to see them except my partner and me and the odd car driving by. I’ll make pie, or feed them to the dogs and the chickens.

Yes, carve a few every year. I got in big trouble with my children one year when I didn’t buy pumpkins in time and we had to drive all over town and only found very tiny ones left.

Most years we just do the classic triangle shapes face. I’ve used both real candles and LED candles to light them.